I have to be careful when I watch cable news. If I'm not, I can find myself shouting - inexplicably - at the television, which does nothing of course except scare the cats.
I don't know about you, but, I have a really hard time listening to the spin, the misrepresentation and, often, the out-right lies I hear being pushed as legitimate fact by "opposition" guests on news analysis programs. Every now and then a viewpoint will strike me as particularly disingenuous. Such was the case yesterday on MSNBC.
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, squared off against GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia on Chris Jansing's morning segment to discuss fiscal vs. social conservatism in the new congress. The result was a perfect example of how "facts" become common wisdom - particularly on the right.
Video and much more after the jump.
All three participants are guilty in this, umm... discussion of spreading misinformation, or propagating myths; Chris Jansing sits idly by while Ms. Wright spouts well memorized percentages of people who are against same-sex marriage, against DADT repeal, against abortion etc. Not once does Jansing point out the context of the numbers. If you weren't listening carefully, you may have missed that it was 82% of Tea Party members who were opposed to same-sex marriage. Not only does Jansing not call Ms. Wright out, she effectively allows Wright to control the conversation by failing to interrupt for reaction from Jimmy LaSalvia.
LaSalvia doesn't do much better than Wright, he meekly protests that GOProud is "pro-life" as if he feels compelled to justify being gay and throwing womens' reproductive rights under the bus in the process. The segment ends with the most absurd conflation on Wright's part; denial of domestic partner benefits is fiscally responsible and fiscal responsibility is a moral issue, therefore; it is a moral imperative to deny insurance benefits to unmarried partners, in this case, specifically, same sex partners.
Once my blood-pressure had begun to fall below stroke danger, I thought some more about what I had just witnessed and came to some conclusions:
Wendy Wright and her ilk do not really believe they are morally superior. Only insanity or deep character flaws like greed or lust for power can explain such rationalization of a morally bankrupt position.
Jimmy LaSalvia should be bound and gagged for the duration of the equality movement. His comments point out the need for us, as a community to unify around the concept of equality and stop speaking only for our own little corner of the sky.
Chris Jansing should go back to reading the news, or at least ask for a new producer. Perhaps it seemed (to the person who books her guests) like a good idea to short circuit the broader issues of fairness and equality in favor of a ginned-up split within the republican party. It wasn't.
The most startling realization however, was that a person not accustomed to thinking in terms of equality, may have erroneously concluded the matter closed. Done. Over with. Not so much concluding that Wright was right, but that with the numbers on her side the struggle was all but lost. It isn't.
We must go on. Furthermore, it is imperative that we learn to control the narrative. The only way we can accomplish this is to unite our goals, codify our language and speak the truth.